Fresh Film Fest ends sixth year of showcasing student cinema


Every year, for those who simply don’t get enough of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, there is another important film event just around the corner in very same place. It’s called the Fresh Film Festival - a showcase of international student cinematography that has quickly risen to prominence in its six years of existence. This year’s main award went to the Swedish film “Scratches”, about bored youngsters yearning for love in an industrial zone. Not the merriest of topics, but a well-crafted look into young filmmaking - which is exactly what has built the Fresh Film Fest its reputation as Central Europe’s major student film festival. Earlier I spoke with artistic director Jan Stehlík about what has brought the Fresh Film Fest to that point.

"I think that our task is to show the most progressive and “fresh” movies, and I think we’ve gotten to this position in Central Europe because there are no other festivals that I know of that have a philosophy similar to ours. So I think we have a special profile in Central Europe. And now that we are in our sixth year, a lot of very important people from very famous festivals appreciate an invitation to our festival, and I think it’s good for us that we have a position that we can call the most important in Central Europe."

And now, coming out of your sixth year, what would you say was special about it, and how has the festival been changing over the years?

"I can say that this year was very similar to the previous year because we think it is not good to change a lot of sections in the festival. I think people who come to the festival expect to get what they want. So we had very similar sections and the kinds of movies were the same as in the past year; I mean in their topics, themes and structure."

You have 200 films from student filmmakers from all over the world; when you look at it overall, what kind of general view does it give you of the topics that are important to this generation, of a kind of zeitgeist?

"I think it depends on the country that the students are from. For example from the north, from Sweden, Finland, from Russia and also Poland, we can expect deeper, more depressive films. And I cannot say that that’s bad – I think for example from Poland every year we have had very good movies, some of the best in the programme. But I think it also depends on how the school prepares the conditions for the students. For example from Argentina, from the Universidad del Cine, every year we get very simple, minimalist movies. And when we talk to the students we find they had no big budgets, but they had what they wanted. So I think we cannot speak generally, it depends on the location on the school, and I think the themes are not so different year after year."